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BBM at aggie’s helm

Today we are in a situation where every country is taking care of its own survival. Where there is a scarcity of oil there is an impending scarcity of food.

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Not a few quizzical brows were raised why President-elect Bongbong Marcos made the decision of handling the Department of Agriculture (DA) himself, at least on an interim tenure. This simply means that BBM considers food security of prime importance given the economic sanctions and food and oil blockade world powers are imposing against each other.

We have a phrase for it: “Naiipit tayo sa nag-uumpugang bato (we are being pinned between two clashing rocks).”

The Philippines is facing a formidable challenge spawned by the lazy act of DA Secretary William Dar to focus mainly on importation using the Rice Tariffication Law as a policy rather than as a tool to address shortfalls.

Today we are in a situation where every country is taking care of its own survival. Where there is a scarcity of oil there is an impending scarcity of food.

The incoming president must have been appalled by a recent declaration that farmers were given back P5,000 derived from the rice tariffication revenues.

While the DA celebrates and takes pride over that achievement, the truth is that the amount is a miserable drop in the bucket. That could barely buy two bags of urea fertilizer.

By rough estimate, on our farm in Midsayap, Cotabato, we spend about P23,000 for fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide per hectare per planting.

Another P20,000 is spent on land preparation, seeds, labor and for mechanized harvesting.

The P5,000 per year grant to a farmer is belittling and making a farmer mendicant.

The other day, Secretary Dar came out with a package of proposals that he said BBM should consider. He talked about setting up a food terminal network.

He either forgot or deliberately stonewalled the fact that Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) was the brainchild of the late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos whose love and programs for the farmers and fishermen were among the centerpieces of his administration.

As I have repeatedly enunciated, FTI was a corporate adjunct of the National Food Authority that catered mainly to provincial producers of meat, fish and other marine products, vegetable and fruits which are perishable items.

FTI had cold storage chain and the main complex is at FTI Taguig. From there, wholesalers and retailers purchase their requirements. So don’t give us the impression that it is a novel idea.

For incoming Pres. Ferdinand R. Marcos to assume the gargantuan responsibility of ensuring the food security of the country is a comforting assurance that reforms in the agricultural sector will be on top of the government agenda. It lends meaning and significance to the oft-repeated declaration that the backbone of the Philippine economy is agriculture.

Let’s watch.

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